Trend toward lighter, natural wood showcased in new home

Posted by Lauran

Trends come and go, and each new year it’s fun to see what experts predict will be “in” for 2017. One trend we’ve noticed, and appreciated, is toward lighter and more natural finishes in wood—on floors, doors and trim. This newly built house that we just staged is clean and crisp, largely because of the white walls and the light wood used throughout.

original artwork by Mark Petersen

According to the Wall Street Journal, “Dark woods like mahogany and ebony are going out of style because they look a little heavy,” said New York-based designer Aamir Khandwala. “Woods such as oak, pear-wood and birch feel more modern, as they are lighter in color and more uniform in grain.”  Studio McGee says: “We’re excited by the comeback of natural wood in 2017. By adding natural wood in finishes and furniture, you create warmth and texture while achieving a classic look that’s cozy and inviting.”

When your home base is all neutrals as in this space (white walls and light wood floors), it’s important to add elements such as color and texture to keep it feeling fresh and interesting.

In the living room, we used pops of yellow as our key accent color. The choice of the iconic Bertoia chairs, with their metal grid pattern, adds an element of texture to the space, as does the fur throw.

original artwork by Harry Gruenert

We loved how the light pours in through the abundant windows to highlight this great example of Scandinavian modern design.

In the master bedroom, we highlighted shades of blue in the rug, artwork and accessories. Blue and white is a classic, always successful color combination.

original artwork by amiguel

original artwork by Harry Gruenert

Orange was the pop color of choice for the loft office. Also note all the texture added through the “fur” rug. And the natural grain on these loft office doors almost acts like artwork on the walls.

When you look down from that loft office, here’s what you see . . .

And here are more shots of the beautiful natural wood interior and closet doors.

In the kid’s room, we mixed multiple bright colors to bring more energy into the otherwise neutral space.

And in the guest room, we turned to a gorgeous blue/green shade in artwork, pillows and even the book and mug on the night stand. The metallic gold lumbar pillow adds a little textural zing.

While the inside of the home is pure comfortable, Scandinavian modern, the outside of the house reads a bit more industrial.

The corrugated metal siding on the front part of the building offers an interesting contrast to the wood stairs and panels, and the painted gray siding.

This home represents everything you’d want for the new year: it’s clean, fresh, and a wonderfully modern blank slate. We just added color and texture to make the most of its natural beauty.

You can see this house in person! Learn more details about it here.

Photography by Open Homes Photography.

Design details in newly constructed Oakland home

Posted by Lauran

We recently staged a newly built home in Oakland’s NOBE neighborhood (where North Oakland, Berkeley and Emeryville intersect) that features some stand-out design details. Take a look and get some ideas for your own home.
pink door

First off—the curb appeal. Check out the great mid-century modern door painted a bright pink, the nice chunky house numbers, and the lovely landscaping—all of these scream “welcome, we’re glad you stopped by!”



original artwork by Harry Gruenert (left) and Mark Petersen (large blue painting)


The main living space features gleaming concrete floors and a comfortable open floor plan. We used navy and yellow-green accents against neutral modern furniture to make the most of the space.


We love the wood ceiling that runs throughout the kitchen and dining rooms. The mix of white upper cabinets and lower wood cabinets is also on-trend.


original artwork by amiguel


original artwork Mark Petersen 



original artwork by amiguel

A bedroom on the main floor is staged as a home office. Note the wood trim around the windows that was left unpainted—a nice modern touch.


original artwork by Mark Petersen

We love the clean, bright stairwell, featuring modern railing, a skylight and window, and a cool light fixture.


original artwork by Harry Gruenert


original artwork by Kristen Jensen (left) and amiguel (center)

The large master suite includes a seating area, a private balcony, and a master bath. The natural fir trim around the doors and windows adds modern warmth to the room.



The guest room and kid’s room were left all-white, making the colorful accents pop and the natural light bounce around the walls.




The backyard is perfect for family living and entertaining. It’s got everything you could want—a grass playground for kids, two seating areas, built-in planters, and . . .



. . . a separate workshed/office/art studio!

The design choices made in this home—such as wood trim, paint colors, light fixtures, skylights, colorful artwork—set it apart from other homes on the market. These are all details that you can incorporate into your own place, even if it’s 50 years old vs. brand new.

Architectural masterpiece in Berkeley Hills

Posted by Lauran

Once in a while we get to stage a house that is truly unique—that really challenges us to make the most of the one-of-a-kind details and unusual layout. This Berkeley Hills home, designed by renowned architect J.H. Ostwald, is such a place.


The most stunning features of this home can be summed up in two words: wood and windows.



The wood paneling, floors and ceilings bring a warmth to the modern design and complement the fantastic views of nature surrounding the home.




Look at that amazing detail on the front door, below.




This main floor room (staged as an office/guest room) gets incredible light through the french doors that lead out to a charming patio.



This room (staged as the kid’s room) is an unusual combination of paneled and sheet rocked walls. We brought in bright colors to make it playful.


The wood ceilings, beams and floors add so much character to this white bedroom.



This bedroom is a bit different—the only wood feature here is the ceiling beam. We chose to paint the feature wall a soft blue to match the sky.


The outdoor spaces are also spectacular—a combination of decks and patios with plenty of little nooks for seating, dining and relaxing.






This home is open this weekend—stop by if you’re in the East Bay!

Our staging features original artwork by amiguelHarry Gruenert and Mark Petersen, and ceramics by Deborah Carlin (

Photography by Open Homes Photography

Making a traditional house modern

Posted by Lauran; fabulous photography by Peter Lyons

Recently we staged two more traditional homes in Berkeley, both with original (unpainted) wood trim. The “to paint or not to paint wood trim” question pops up often in the design world. While white painted trim really brightens up a space, we understand why some people prefer to leave the wood unpainted, especially when it’s in great condition.

The trade-off for the beautiful wood is that it often makes the house feel darker and more traditional. We were brought in specifically to make these homes more modern, lighter and brighter—to show buyers that a home with a lot of traditional wood trim and paneling can still be decorated in a more current way.

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We rely on two primary techniques to “modernize” traditional homes: color and clean lined furniture. In the photo above from the house on Colusa street, you can see how the colorful striped entry rug brings a playful, happy sense to the space as soon as you walk in the door.

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Throughout the lower floor of the home, the bright colors from the entry rug continue in the artwork, pillows, accessories and especially the chartreuse dining room chairs. These carefully placed colors combine with the white painted walls around the trim to lighten the home.

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In addition to the colors, we used iconic mid-century pieces, such as the Egg Chair (above) and the Eames Shell dining chairs, to provide a modern contrast to the wood trim and leaded glass windows.

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Note the simple, clean-lined dining room table we paired with the Eames chairs, as well as the ultra-modern bar stools we used for the kitchen nook.

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In the little sitting room that leads out to the deck we placed a love seat, which features the color and the clean lines, as well as a pair of modern global basket tables. This is a combination you wouldn’t expect to find in this type of home.

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The master and guest rooms had the trim painted white already. We added area rugs to freshen up the wall-to-wall carpeting.

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We also chose modern outdoor furniture to add a hipper vibe to the front porch.

The second traditional home we staged was on 66th street.

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Again, the white painted walls in the entryway helped to set a brighter tone against the wood trim, as did the gold rug, colorful artwork, and pillows.

1079 66th 08

1079 66th 09

A very modern butterfly chair, the iconic Noguchi table and a new CB2 rug bring a fresh perspective to the living room.

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This particular dining room had floor-to-ceiling wood paneling on two walls, so we chose very simple and clean dining room table and chairs to tone down the formality.

These two homes show that modern furniture and accessories can breathe new life into a more traditional space.

Decorating superstars

Posted by Lauran

Whether we’re staging a home for sale or decorating a client’s space, there are certain items we choose to use again and again. I call these “decorating superstars” because they are timeless and versatile—you can use them in almost any room, and they never go out of style. The following four are guaranteed good investments!

a graphic rug

You can’t go wrong with a graphic black-and-white or blue-and-white rug. The Stockholm rug from Ikea and Tile Wool Kilim from West Elm are both winners.

aitken office

mag master

They work especially well in bedrooms and offices, giving a nice pop of color and texture without competing too much with artwork and pillows.

Harlan loft office

5721 Roberts Ave (27)-X3

Our next superstar is a simple modern wood stool, which can be used a thousand ways.

a wood stool

We love the iconic  Aalto stool and Serena and Lily’s Dipped Dyed Stools. They can be extra seating, a side table in the living room, or a bedside table in a tiny bedroom.

staging 1


aalto stool bedroom

Mirror mirror on the wall, you’re the best decor of all . . .


That’s right, our next superstar is a mirror—specifically, a round, uncomplicated mirror. We love Ikea’s Stockholm mirror and CB2’s Tork Brass mirror for their simplicity. A round mirror always looks great above a mantle . . .

stockholm in LR

. . . and in a bedroom to bounce light around and open up the space.

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09 Din detail

A round mirror is also a great way to welcome guests in an entryway.

Our final decorating superstar is the stool’s bigger cousin: the bench.

a bench

The iconic Nelson Platform bench is a classic for a reason. We also love our vintage sliding slat bench found at the Alameda flea market and our orange upholstered bench from AllModern.


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mag guest room

These benches serve as entryway seating, coffee tables, window seat benches, and shelving/seating in home offices.

What are your decorating superstars? Tell us in the comments below.


A colorful, soulful artist’s home

Posted by Lauran

Once in a while we are hired to do a “partial” staging, where we style and stage a home for sale using primarily the homeowner’s own furniture and accessories, and supplement with our  inventory as needed. Partial stagings are tricky to get right, because it’s usually hard to make our stuff blend seamlessly with the client’s.

However, this week we had a very successful partial staging at an artist’s home in Oakland—a bright, happy space filled with her art and artifacts.



The eclectic zen vibe of the house is set the minute you see the front gate. As you walk up the stairs toward the house you pass a carefully landscaped garden and walk under a charming vine-covered trellis.


The front door leads into an entry hall, where several of the homeowner’s bird collage paintings are on display. It feels like a bright, friendly art gallery.


To the right of the entry, this first-floor room was used as the artist’s studio, but we moved in furniture from other rooms to create more of a family space vibe. Everything we used belongs to the homeowner; we just put it all together in a new way (and showcased two of her larger pieces on either side of the fireplace).


From the first floor you ascend a white stairway and are greeted by the bright second floor landing, painted a vibrant orange by the artist.

into LR

To the right of the landing you gaze into the bright and colorful living room, featuring walls painted two different shades of green, a copper fireplace, and built-ins full of the artist’s treasures.




It was fun to style these shelves with her incredible selection of accessories, art and books.


The dining room walls were hand-stenciled by the homeowner and pick up the flowers in her painting.



The kitchen was remodeled recently. The modern flat front cabinets and marble countertops are complemented by quirky artwork and details . . .

IMG_7726 IMG_7727

. . . like these shelves on either side of the sink.



More stenciling is found on the master bedroom wall, offset by more artwork and a luscious teal feature wall.

meditation room3

A spring green bedroom acted as the artist’s meditation space.

meditation room

We added a daybed to show buyers that the room is spacious enough for multiple uses.

This home also includes a huge detached studio, which was empty when we came onto the project. We moved the owner’s easel, art cart and desks into the space, then brought in a sofa, chair, rug, supplemental artwork, and bed.



studio bed

We were able to create four different zones (sleeping, painting, living and working) to show the potential of the space.

This is truly a special home, and if you’d like to see it before it’s snapped up be sure to visit the open house this Sunday.

Original artwork by Jennifer Bain; additional artwork in bottom three photos by amiguel and Harry Gruenert.

Hip new modern home

Posted by Lauran

Over the last couple of months, we’ve staged some cool mid-century modern homes and featured them on the blog. Today I want to share a newly constructed modern home located in West Oakland.


This is one of two side-by-side homes designed by local architect Matt Baran. Both stand next to old Victorians that are prevalent in the area. The curb appeal is stunning due to the yellow door, rustic wood facade and huge palm tree.


When you enter the yellow door, you can see straight through to the back of the house, past the stairwell, a sitting area, the dining area, and the living room.

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The open plan main floor is punctuated by plenty of windows that let light in to bounce off the white walls and wood floors. We brought in color through artwork and accessories.


Downstairs, a large landing leads to the guest room, kid’s room, master suite, and a sweet courtyard.




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The master suite includes a nice bathroom and sliding doors leading to a small yard.

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We loved staging this home—the clean lines and open space allowed us to have fun with accessories, art and furnishings.

Fantastic photography by Peter Lyons

We are proud to feature art from AMiguel, Harry Gruenert, Audrey Kral, Shawn Shawn, and Kristen Jensen throughout this home.

Original local art highlights a mid-century masterpiece

Posted by Lauran

Perched way up in the Berkeley Hills, 10 Atlas Place is a spectacular mid-century home designed in the 1960s by J.H. Ostwald, featuring his hallmark combination of woodsy and modern elements. We were delighted to stage this spacious home last week, which gave us the opportunity to feature a few local artists on walls and shelves throughout. Allow us to show you around!


You enter the home through this stunning foyer, complete with a huge skylight, wooden mid-century sculpture, and pebbled floor. We hung this painting by Harry Gruenert as a perfect complement to the space.



As you walk through the foyer, you come to the living room, featuring gorgeous wood beams, a brick fireplace and windows looking out onto views of the bay and two bridges! On the shelves on either side of the fireplace we chose soothing abstracts from Audrey Kral, while two more of Harry’s paintings face each other on the living room walls.

We filled the bookshelves with books (of course) and many original ceramic pieces by Deborah Carlin ( We love the organic nature and colors in her work.


The dining room also showcases the million-dollar views!


Next to the dining room is the kitchen, which was updated with new gray porcelain tile flooring and white quartz countertops. We love the original cabinets and built-in shelves and desk area.



From the kitchen you enter a playroom/lounge area, where we showcased more paintings from Audrey.


To the left of this room are a bathroom and two more rooms, staged as a kid’s room and an office.


The playful prints above the kid’s bed are from artist Mati Rose McDonough.


The light green abstract above the desk is by artist Diane McGauley.

Also on the main floor is the master suite, tucked away for privacy and separation from the rest of the home.


That’s an original piece by artist AMiguel hanging over the master bed. And check out the built-in library shelves!


Directly outside of the master suite is one of several decks that overlook the hills and the bay.


Back in the dining room, you go down a very cool circular staircase to the lower floor of the home, where a huge family room, guest suite, and wine cellar await you.


In the guest suite, we hung two more colorful paintings by AMiguel.



Next to the guest suite, the family room features a groovy built-in bar area that leads out to the lower decks.


Don’t you love the super-mod built-in sofa in the family room? Two more abstract paintings from Harry were just the right match for the vibe and the colors in the room.



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This wouldn’t be a complete tour if we didn’t show you the outside of the home too. It includes several levels for lounging, a fire pit, and a pool!



We had fun staging the cabana as a boho-lounge.

If you want to see this one-of-a-kind home in person (and who wouldn’t?), it’s open this weekend (4/9 & 4/10). For more information check out the video or contact agent Linnette Edwards!

Spectacular photography by Peter Lyons

Mid-century living in the Berkeley Hills

We recently had the opportunity to stage a special home in the Berkeley Hills. It is a true mid-century gem, and we furnished and styled it accordingly.






Note the wood panel walls, ceiling beams, and brick fireplace—details indicative of a home from this era.


The family room (shown above) also features grasscloth wallpaper—which is back in style!



This home has spectacular views of the Bay and Golden Gate Bridge from the living room and front bedroom, which we staged as an office.



A sweet outdoor patio is great for entertaining, and a raised grass area is a nice place to take in the view.


Click here for more information on this house.

Photography by Open Homes Photography

5 fresh design ideas from a West Oakland Victorian

A renovated Victorian in West Oakland that we just staged offers some out-of-the-ordinary design choices. Read on for inspiration . . .

Vivid color palette

Victorian gold door

We used bold colors in paint and accessories, from the vibrant gold front door . . .

mag entry

. . . to the bright striped entry rug and colorful paintings by Kristen Jensen . . .

mag office

. . . to the bright pops of purple, orange, pink and royal blue used in our pillows, poufs and artwork throughout the rest of the house.

mag guest room

painting on left by amiguel; painting on right by Kristen Jensen

Living room accents

artwork by Harry Gruenert

White brick backsplash

modern white kitchen

white brick backsplash

Instead of the typical white subway tile you see everywhere, the developer chose to use white brick tile. We love the mix of the rustic-feeling “painted brick” with the sleek stainless appliances and marble countertops.

Black kitchen hardware

black kitchen hardware

black faucet

Another unique touch in the kitchen is the use of black pulls, knobs and faucet. The matte black is a welcome alternative to nickel, chrome or brass.

Mixed seating in dining room

mixed dining room seating

We chose to feature a mix of white chairs and two of the new Sinnerlig stools from Ikea. The interesting blend of white, wood, gray, black and cork is echoed in the adjoining kitchen materials.

Dimensional bathroom vanity mirrors

mag round mirror

mag master bath

In all three of the bathrooms, the developer installed vanity mirrors that have dimensional depth to them. The bottom of the rectangular version seen above can also function as a shelf.

When decorating your home, don’t overlook the details (like hardware, mirrors and bold color combinations) that can make your space look and feel uniquely yours.

This house is for sale! Contact Daniel Winkler for more information!